Joel Womack, MD, says communication is key to success of acute care-at-home programs

Joel Womack, MD, regional chief of Hospital Medicine for Northwest Permanente, said on a recent panel hosted by Home Health Care News that close communication between physicians and in-home care team members is key to the successful delivery of acute care-at-home services.

“This is not a house-call system,” Dr. Womack said during the panel, “Inside the Home-Based Care Strategies of Kaiser Permanente, USMM & Geisinger Health System,” at the FUTURE Conference in New York. “Our physicians are part of a care hub that is linked to the patient’s home via video visits – where we provide care with in-home care [team members] for multiple disciplines – with a doctor directing medical care from a virtual hub.”

While other organizations are moving toward care-at-home models, Kaiser Permanente was at the forefront years before the COVID-19 pandemic hastened adoption of the trend.

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Kaiser Permanente’s acute home-based care model ensures that services are not provided in a silo. All members of the care team remain connected and in constant communication — whether they provide care directly at the patient’s home or from a hospital.

“You have home care providers, for instance, that are nimble and able to give direct feedback when they are in the home,” Dr. Womack said. “Whether it be wound care, physical therapy, etcetera we have closed-loop communication with them and we really depend on them for delivering this acute care in the home.”

The at-home care delivery model brings incredible benefits, including better outcomes and higher quality, patient-centered care, he said. Since the onset of COVID-19, Kaiser Permanente has made significant progress and technological advances with its at-home care capabilities that improve patient care transitions and the services provided in the home.

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